Market Outlook…

By: Navneet Munot, CFA, CIO, SBI Mutual Fund and Chairman, IAIP

India’s Nifty index peaked at 11,760 on 28th August and has corrected 12% since then. The correction was triggered by events in the financial and oil sector but had a contagion effect across sectors. FIIs, who broadly held on to Indian equity up-until August, have sold nearly US$ 5 billion in last two months as they may have lightened their over-weight position in the financial sector.

Default by IL&FS acted as a catalyst and led to increased concerns on liquidity and asset-liability management (ALM) mismatch for other Non-banking financial Entities (NBFE). In the wake of rising interest rate cycle, these wholesale funded finance companies had increasingly resorted to short term commercial papers (CPs) to lower their overall cost of funds and improve profitability. Total CPs outstanding had risen by ~ 50% in 1H FY19. With sentiments turning negative for the sector, the refinancing risk is high for those having significant ALM mismatch.

Given the prevailing ALM mismatch and uncertainty around funding availability, NBFEs would divert their focus to address the liability side issues and go slow on expanding their asset book. This transition would also imply rise in cost of funds and compression in profits. NBFEs should work fast to tide over the issues as the slower credit growth is gradually percolating into concerns on their asset quality as well.

Adequate system liquidity has been a key enabler of high growth and return on equity for the NBFEs over the last couple of years. However, liquidity has been tightening on all fronts. The balance-sheet of the key four central banks (US, UK, Eurozone and Japan), which had expanded by US$ 11 trillion since global financial crisis is slated to  trim down. India’s external account (BoP) is staring at deficit for the first time in last seven years implying reduced availability of external capital. Further, domestic liquidity situation has tightened as well. While the system credit to deposit ratio is at ~75%, the loan to deposit ratio for some of the private banks is even higher (+90%). Hence, the virtuous cycle of high growth funded by large wholesale borrowing is challenged. That said, some of the companies with relatively stronger liability footings should be able to tide over.

In such an environment, banks with stronger retail deposit base have a competitive advantage vis-à-vis wholesale funded banks\NBFEs. Further, these banks have  opportunities on multiple fronts – absorbing the NBFE’s portfolio at a decent yield, better pricing power in lending to NBFEs and capturing the market share vacated by these entities.

Policy makers have tried to support by augmenting liquidity and easing the regulations towards NBFI lending. So far, they are piecemeal responses. Any further adverse development could lead to deeper reforms. Such is the nature of reforms; it is never brought out of conviction but never fails in the times of compulsion. Important to
note, government’s pet projects like “housing for all” and financial inclusion rest on the strength of NBFEs.

Segments like housing, autos and consumer durables may witness slowdown where NBFE’s lending has been a key driver of growth. Apart from the possible near-term credit squeeze, the rising petrol and diesel prices would also reduce the ability to spend else-where. Petrol prices have risen by 30% and diesel by 40% in the last 2 years implying additional annual expenditure of Rs. 0.9 trillion, almost 1% of the total consumption expenditure.

One year back, when we projected the improvement in growth, we had couple of favorable factors such as fading of GST and demonetization related disruptions, pick up in global growth, two years of good monsoon, government focusing on rural schemes and signs of improved capacity utilization. Over the last few months, some meaningful headwinds have emerged while the existing positive drivers may be ebbing (favorable base and global growth outlook). Cost of funds has increased implying monetary tightening. Private consumption over the last couple of years has outgrown the income growth primarily due to increased reliance on leverage. Multilateral agencies are expecting global growth to soften by 20-30bps in 2019. All these could weigh on domestic growth in the near term.

3QFY19 earnings season so far has been fairly decent. But there are concerns that higher raw material cost without a commensurate ability to take price hikes will affect the profit margins. Further, given the headwinds on the financial sector and its spill-over effect on other sectors, earnings downgrade for FY 2018-19 is expected.

For equity markets, apart from the macro headwinds and political uncertainty, currency depreciation and issues with the NBFEs have worked as incremental negatives. Complex set of developments around Saudi Arabia, growing rift between Italy and rest of the Eurozone, the growth concerns in China are also weighing negatively on sentiments. The trade-talks between US and China still remain in impasse. Further escalation in trade issues will weigh in not only on US and China but all other nations that are intricately linked to their supply chain.

That said, good news and good price together is never a reality. The current market fall has led to large corrections in the excess in the valuations. While some degree of over-valuation at an aggregate level still remains, plethora of stocks has started to look attractive in the growth-valuation matrix. Though difficult to quantify, it appears that
market has taken cognizance of most of the headwinds and uncertainty for India. At such times, it is equally important to take the note of what could undo the negative sentiments and catch us by positive surprise.

Over the last few days, crude has corrected by nearly US$ 10 per barrel (Brent). If crude were to soften further for any reason, say up-lifting the Iran sanctions or weakening global demand, India stands to be the largest beneficiary. Suddenly, all the macro-metrics whether it is CAD, capital inflows, currency, inflation or fiscal would start to sober-up. Alongside, if the narratives on global monetary cycle were to change or the outlook on Indian growth was to soften, it could also trigger some accommodation in rates cycle. One of the key budding risks to system liquidity comes from weaker currency and its impact on domestic outflows. On the flip side, a sharp move in currency could lead to measures, like those in 2013, addressing the liquidity issues. Even during the last two months correction,
domestic investors have continued to show resilience as reflected in rising SIP flows. YTD, emerging markets have significantly underperformed the developed market (MSCI EM is down 17%, MSCI World by 3%, US is up 1%). At some point, we may start to look at reversal in this trade. Hence, timing the market may not be easy!

Coming to the fixed income market, the dynamics are changing quite fast. The latest statements from the MPC suggests that unless external variables deteriorate further, the RBI would continue to pause on policy rates. Market is divided on the next hike and arguments on both sides are equally compelling. RBI’s FX reserves fell by another
US$ 7 billion in October taking the total reserves drawdown to US$ 31 billion FYTD. The risk on currency side may warrant measures to increase the attractiveness of financial investment in India; including rate hikes. But on the other hand, the looming challenges in the NBFIs call for increasing the liquidity (broadly akin to monetary easing). Further, the growing global growth concerns and possible bearing of the NBFIs on economic activity may lead to domestic growth concerns as well.

10-year G-sec touched a peak of 8.18% on 11 th September and corrected nearly 35bps since then on the back of softer inflation prints, softening of crude and statements from RBI re-iterating the inflation targeting regime. That said, the possibility of fiscal slippage still concerns the market. While there is growing expectations of large OMO purchases (+Rs. 2 trillion in FY19) by the RBI, if the banks were to fill up the credit space of NBFCs or purchases the assets of NBFCs/HFCs, their ability to purchase the G-sec may be curtailed and hence offset the positive impact of OMOs. More than these demand-supply dynamics, we believe that the developments on fundamental issues such as growth-inflation dynamics, crude price trajectory, rupee and fiscal developments will play a larger role in shaping the bond yields. We re-iterate that valuations are attractive for long term investors. Time and again, the central bank has re-iterated its commitment to the 4% inflation target and to that extent current valuations look attractive.

-NM

(reproduced from SBI Mutual Fund Newsletter)

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What is the best time to prepare for the retirement?

SD

Contributed By: Sumit Duseja, CFA (Co-founder Truemind Capital Services)

 What is the best time to prepare for the retirement?

A study of 1,000 senior citizens conducted by LendEDU in the US reveals the biggest regret among elders in not saving enough for retirement. The concerns are not much different from what can be witnessed in urban India. The situation may be worse in India since the financial literacy is very poor compared to developed economies.

The worst feeling post retirement is to ask for help from others to meet your basic requirements or to compromise with your lifestyle. Moreover, nobody wants to lose self-respect at any stage of life. However, a simple planning can help you avert such a situation post retirement.

The biggest reason for failing to appropriately prepare for the retirement is the wrong notion that the retirement planning should start a few years before the retirement. Another reason is procrastination. In reality, the best time to start preparing for the retirement is TODAY.

Why Today? For the simple reasons – inflation and the power of compounding. Let us see how inflation affects our expenses and how the power of compounding can be used to trounce it.

Inflation: A silent monster

Inflation is the most under-rated threat that is always feeding on your money, reducing your purchasing power. It is under-rated as it grows gradually without making one realize the severity of its impact in the long term.

If you are currently spending INR 50 thousand per month on your lifestyle, you will have to spend a much higher amount at the time of your retirement to sustain the similar lifestyle. Assuming our lifestyle inflation of INR 7%, you will need INR 98 thousand (almost double the amount from today) after 10 years just to maintain the current lifestyle standard. That means, what you can buy today for INR 50 thousand, you will have to shell out INR 98 thousand for the same after 10 years. It keeps on increasing with every passing year due to inflation. This also means that if you are not saving or your savings are not earning more than inflation, your purchasing power will gradually reduce.

Check below the inflation adjusted expenses of INR 50 thousand/month over the following years.

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Source: Truemind Capital Services Research

#Average inflation assumption of 7%

If you are retiring after 20 years, be ready to spend INR 1.93 Lakhs per month to sustain the present lifestyle at the time of retirement. Unfortunately, inflation will continue to hurt post retirement also. 10 years after the retirement, the monthly expenses will become INR 3.80 Lakhs.

To fund your monthly expenses post retirement, you will need around INR 8-10 Crores (assuming the current age of 30, 30 years to retirement from today, a life expectancy of 80 years and returns on your post retirement funds at 8%). This calculation doesn’t even take into account the rising medical expenses in the old age. Do you think you are prepared for such a situation?

You can calculate your own retirement corpus that you would need at the time of retirement by using the tool on our website. Click here to find out.

Now, since you know that a substantial corpus is needed at the time of retirement, don’t let that frighten you into feeling that it is not achievable. Simple planning, discipline, and power of compounding are all that you need.

Power of Compounding: Eighth wonder of the world

Power of compounding is a powerful method to reach any of your financial goals. Sooner you start better it works. Let us see how procrastinating your investment plan affects your wealth in the long term.

Imagine today you have started investing INR 10,000 per month over the next twenty years. You will be investing INR 24 Lakhs over the twenty-year period. One of your friends started late – 10 years from today. To make up for the loss of time and savings, he decided to double up the investment amount to INR 20,000. In that way, his total investment after the end of 20 years from today will be INR 24 Lakhs, same as yours.

However, if both yours and your friend’s investment grow at 12% per annum, by the end of 20 years the value of your investment would be INR 99.91 Lakhs whereas the value of your friend’s investment would be INR 46.46 Lakhs. Therefore, despite putting the same amount, a delay of 10 years resulted in a loss of INR 53.44 Lakhs to your friend.

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Source: Truemind Capital Services Research

From the above discussion, we learn that the power of compounding is a powerful tool that multiplies your wealth in the long term.

In the same manner, to prepare for retirement, you can start with even small amount to create a substantial corpus for your retirement. To find out the amount to be invested per month for creating retirement corpus that you need, click here.

Referring to Mr. Warren Buffet quote, it is essential to make your savings work for you while you are sleeping to achieve financial independence.

Warren Buffet pic

With two sources of income – from job and higher compounding returns on savings, you will be able to achieve your retirement goal with ease. Only other traits you need are patience and discipline.

Retirement is inevitable. You cannot wish it away. Therefore, don’t procrastinate. Start your retirement planning today.

 

 

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Fragility and optionality in business models

Contributed by : Rajni Dhameja, CFA

CFA Society India organised a session on August 04, 2018 on “Fragility and optionality in business models” by Prof. Sanjay Bakshi.

Key takeaways are as follows.

Fragility as defined in Cambridge dictionary means the quality of getting easily damaged. In business context fragility would mean the business being vulnerable to the fragility. There are various factors which can make business vulnerable to fragility. This fragility can come from various sources, few of those are discussed below:

  1. Lack of entry barriers : Lack of entry barriers causes fragility in the business in a way that the business loses its competitive advantage eg: Go PRO
  2. Business where the both input and output is commodity are susceptible to fragility. On the other hand the business where the input is commodity and output is brand, has competitive advantage as the brand can give it the pricing power.
  3. Disruption through innovation can bring fragility to the existing business
  4. Dependence on one or few customers, dependence on govt. subsidies, dependence on kindness of others can be a major source of fragility in the business
  5. Dependence on the price of something that is volatile and beyond control can bring out the fragility in the business
  6. Rigid cost structures can also cause the fragility in the business
  7. Gambling tendencies in the business can bring about the fragility

As can be seen from above that fragility can stem from various sources hence in few cases it becomes inherent part of the business. Now the question arises how to deals with it. Ways to deal with it:

  1. If it is unacceptable, avoid it completely
  2. Ignore it completely and then later on face the consequences
  3. Being pragmatic: Be aware about the presence of fragility and then act consciously. Eg: Portfolio sizing, taking calculated bets

Optionality lies at the other end of spectrum from fragility. Optionality has unlimited gains, limited losses whereas fragility can bring unlimited losses. As opposed to fragility, optionality is desirable. Fragility depends on luck on the other hand bad luck in optionality is not fatal, whereas good luck can bring big bang gains.

Look for the business which has optionality in it. Value investing is an example of implementing optionality, wherein you do not pay for growth. Being aware about both fragility and optionality enables you to size your portfolio in optimum manner.

 

– RD

 

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Future of Hedge Funds in Asia

Contributed By: Team Voyage Capital, IIM Indore

Event Date: 22 August 2018

Voyage Capital, the Investment and Equity Research Club of IIM Indore hosted the session on “Future of Hedge Funds in Asia” conducted by Mr. Jainendra Shandilya, CFA, CAIA, in collaboration with Indore Chapter for CFA Society. Mr. Shandilya is an esteemed Faculty Member at the National Institute of Securities Markets(NISM). He has represented SEBI before the Central Information Commission for ensuring compliance under the Right to Information Act, 2005. He holds Master Degree in Economics and is also CFA and CAIA charterholder and is the Chapter Head of CAIA India. The event also witnessed esteemed guests like Mr. Pramod Saraf, CFA and Director of Swan Finance Limited and Mr. Gaurav Somani, CFA and Director of Finoptions Institute of Financial Studies.

IMG-20180822-WA0005

In this session Mr. Shandilya busted the prevalent myths of Hedge Funds being highly risky, illiquid and an irregular vehicle for investment. He compared the Hedge Funds in India, Asia and Western World and the results were astonishing. Indian and Asian markets, despite having an abundance of Mutual Fund schemes, are still at a very nascent stage in terms of Hedge Funds. The total corpus of Hedge Funds in the Asia Pacific region is around $157 billion, whereas that of Western Countries is close to $3 trillion.

He explained why hedge funds were able to deliver superior returns over traditional investment instruments such as mutual funds. The most important reason for the same was the use of leverage, capacity to go short and the high amount of due diligence gone into each potential investment. Another important aspect of the discussion was related to the advancement in technologies which have led to algorithmic trading and other software based portfolio management schemes. All these have posed a serious threat to the jobs of traditional fund managers, which brings Hedge Funds in positive light as they are more personalised.

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He discussed about the scope of Hedge funds in India and the future job opportunities and roles. He shared his positive outlook towards the Industry by citing the fact that at present around 5000 mutual funds in India function with a corpus of more than $300 billion, whereas only 200 hedge funds currently operate in the country having an approximate corpus of $1 billion. Thus, a high rate of growth can be expected in the next 5-10 years.

 

 

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Investment Channels – UK and India

Contributed By: Meera Siva, CFA

Friday, July 6, 2018, Chennai

The relation between UK and India, for trade and money, has a long history. UK and India continue to work closely in cross-border investments. In this talk, Sam Prasanth Kumar, Prosperity Adviser at British Deputy High Commission, shared the various programs for investment and collaboration between the two countries in various domains, including fintech.

Sam fosters relationship and facilitates partnerships between UK and India public and private sector institutions in Ease of Doing Business, Smart Cities and Financial Services, including FinTech. He is well experienced in working with non-profit organizations. He holds a Masters’ degree in Social Work and a Bachelors’ degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai.

July6 Chennai - Speaker

 

Big partner

UK investments into India accounts for 1 in 20 jobs in the formal sector. Likewise, India invests more into the UK than it does into the rest of the EU combined. Last year, Indian firms created the second largest number of new jobs in the UK (Tata Global Beverages, HCL, Reliance, Axis Bank, ICICI, TVS logistics, HCL Insurance BPO, Dr Reddy’s Laboratory, to name a few).

 

Indian Ministry of Commerce & Industry data shows that UK goods exports to India grew by 31.2% in FY 2017-18, at $4.8 billion while imports from India to UK was up 13.6% at $9.7 billion. Research collaboration between UK-India has been on an exponential growth track – from almost 1 million in 2008 to around £400 million by 2021.

 

There have been many successful partnerships at the company level. For example, Hero Global Design (Hero Cycle) and 42 Gears Mobility Systems from India setup operations in the UK. Westminster Healthcare and Dental Nursing academy of New College Lanarkshire established operations in India. There is also interest from Indian companies to raise funds in the UK through Masala bonds.

July6 Chennai-Audience

Many programs

There are many awards, grants and programs that help foster relationship between the two countries. One big initiative is Chevening Fellowships/Scholarships. Others of interest include Tech Rocketship awards and the recently launched FinTech Rocketship Awards for entrepreneurs. Another interesting award is the India Emerging Twenty (IE20), created by London & Partners and launched by the Mayor of London. Its mission is to discover 20 of India’s most innovative and high-growth companies to help them grow to London.

 

Some of the channels for partnerships through investment include the Pontaq’s UK-India Innovation Fund and Innovation Lab. Business partnerships are also forged through various groups and organizations such as various City Councils such as London, Manchester as well as business groups. Many cities have City Councils that offer various incentives and information sharing programs to attract businesses.

 

Knowledge partner

Besides investment and programs, there are also many ways in which knowledge sharing happens between the two countries. There are UK firms that are looking to share technology such as in payments for public buses and flood detection/monitoring. UK is also actively partnering with the FinTech Center of Excellence that is coming up in Chennai.

 

There are focus groups in the British Deputy High Commission for each verticals – Smart Cities, Financial Services, Energy, Ease of Doing Business, Healthcare, Skills – to find ways to collaborate

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Field notes of a FinTech Entrepreneur

Contributed By: Meera Siva,CFA

Friday, August 3, 2018, Chennai

FinTech is all the rage now; but imagine starting a fintech venture in Chennai a decade ago. In this candid, interactive session filled with laughter and sense of awe, Srikanth Meenakshi, co-founder and COO of Funds India shared his experiences as a fin-tech entrepreneur and mutual fund investing/advisory. FundsIndia.com is an online financial services platform for investors, since 2008. It manages an AUM of Rs 5,400 crores of about 2 lakh customers, pan India and for NRIs – making it the largest FinTech platform for investment services, by a large margin.

August3 -img1.jpg

Srikanth started his career with IBM global services and moved to a startup doing an online brokerage platform called Folio Investing. He then worked at Fannie Mae, handling securitization and capital markets. Srikanth received his MS in Computer Science from Oregon Graduate Institute, USA.

Early years

Srikanth found the problem space in 2008 based on his pain in making mutual fund and other investments, as with many entrepreneurs. “I also needed a job, having moved to India from the US”, he adds humorously. The original problem they wanted to solve was to create a financial plan for investors. But it changed to online mutual fund investing.

Srikanth noted that their venture was based on technology and this needed substantial investment in the early years. He and his co-founder had each invested INR 50 lakhs each from their savings in the venture. They had to add to this and there was always need for more money. Raising money was not easy and at one point they had come up with an exit plan – how to shut operations gracefully and continue servicing exiting investors. It did not come to that, but it was very close, he says.

He said that customer confidence, from clients who had never met the team, kept them going during difficult times. “The faith they had in sending the cheque in our name, gave a lot of validation to the idea”, he says.

August3 - img2.jpg

Role of research

Funds India has a strong research team to understand and analyze mutual fund investments. While the initial focus was on technology and enhancements continue, the emphasis is on research and analysis to provide the best advise to investors. Srikanth says that investment is knowledge business and domain expertise is critical. “Without that, it becomes a platform, not different from IRCTC”, he notes. In the long run, this differentiation – by creating a knowledge factory – is what will help clients to stick with Funds India.

Srikanth also highlighted the issues of an online platform in engaging with clients. “Unlike an advisor who sits across the table, we are remote and do not have opportunities to interact. So, we must find ways to be connected”, he says. “Marketing gets you customers, research keeps them”, he notes. Their customer stickiness data shows that they have been successful in this.

Funds India also does not believe in churning portfolio. “Using technology to pro-actively monitoring returns and suggesting changes may appear as service. But it is often misleading guidance”, Srikanth says.

Service options

The features in the platform are on par with or in some cases even better than global robo advisory platforms. The platform has tools to provide reports on your portfolio. This includes analysis of stock holdings in different mutual funds in your portfolio to understand overlaps. Investors can also opt for periodic review – say once in six months – of their portfolio. They can always call anytime to clarify. One recent example was when the mutual fund categories was changed by SEBI, investors had many questions and there were calls to understand.

Srikanth feels that tools such as artificial intelligence are buzzwords. There is a lot of structured data and rule-based decisions can be taken. For example, based on the profile of the customer and AUM, audience can be segmented to share messages. You need lots of data to do real big data analytics and only when you deal with unstructured data, require neural networks. “We look at technology to figure out which business pain points can be solved inside and how customer experience can be improved”, he notes.

Mistakes

The success – as measured by revenue and customer growth, funding, team – also had its share of setbacks and was despite mis-steps. Srikanth noted that they must have focused on marketing earlier. “We were a digital business; but we did not do digital marketing for nearly two years”, he says. The company also launched its app only in 2015.

“When people stop their SIP as market goes down, I feel bad that we have not educated investors”, he says.

Short quips

How did you convince your first investor to fund you?

With lots of difficulty.

Does the platform allow investments in equity, FD and other products?

Yes, but why do you need anything beyond mutual funds for retail investors?

How is it dealing with the regulator?

The forewarnings and rumors give sleepless nights. The news finally is usually not so bad.

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Investment Channels – UK and India

Contributed By – Meera Siva, CFA

Date: Friday, July 6, 2018, Chennai

The relation between UK and India, for trade and money, has a long history. UK and India continue to work closely in cross-border investments. In this talk, Sam Prasanth Kumar, Prosperity Adviser at British Deputy High Commission, shared the various programs for investment and collaboration between the two countries in various domains, including fintech.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sam fosters relationship and facilitates partnerships between UK and India public and private sector institutions in Ease of Doing Business, Smart Cities and Financial Services, including FinTech. He is well experienced in working with non-profit organizations. He holds a Masters’ degree in Social Work and a Bachelors’ degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai.

Big partner

UK investments into India accounts for 1 in 20 jobs in the formal sector. Likewise, India invests more into the UK than it does into the rest of the EU combined. Last year, Indian firms created the second largest number of new jobs in the UK (Tata Global Beverages, HCL, Reliance, Axis Bank, ICICI, TVS logistics, HCL Insurance BPO, Dr Reddy’s Laboratory, to name a few).

Indian Ministry of Commerce & Industry data shows that UK goods exports to India grew by 31.2% in FY 2017-18, at $4.8 billion while imports from India to UK was up 13.6% at $9.7 billion. Research collaboration between UK-India has been on an exponential growth track – from almost 1 million in 2008 to around £400 million by 2021.

There have been many successful partnerships at the company level. For example, Hero Global Design (Hero Cycle) and 42 Gears Mobility Systems from India setup operations in the UK. Westminster Healthcare and Dental Nursing academy of New College Lanarkshire established operations in India. There is also interest from Indian companies to raise funds in the UK through Masala bonds.

Many programs

There are many awards, grants and programs that help foster relations between the two countries. One significant initiative is Chevening Fellowships/Scholarships. Others of interest include Tech Rocketship awards and the recently launched FinTech Rocketship Awards for entrepreneurs. Another interesting award is the India Emerging Twenty (IE20), created by London & Partners and launched by the Mayor of London. Its mission is to discover 20 of India’s most innovative and high-growth companies to help them grow to London.

Some of the channels for partnerships through investment include the Pontaq’s UK-India Innovation Fund and Innovation Lab. Business partnerships are also forged through various groups and organizations such as various City Councils such as London, Manchester as well as business groups. Many cities have City Councils that offer various incentives and information sharing programs to attract businesses.

Knowledge partner

Besides investment and programs, there are also many ways in which knowledge sharing happens between the two countries. There are UK firms that are looking to share technology such as in payments for public buses and flood detection/monitoring. The UK is also actively partnering with the FinTech Center of Excellence that is coming up in Chennai.

There are focus groups in the British Deputy High Commission for each vertical – Smart Cities, Financial Services, Energy, Ease of Doing Business, Healthcare, Skills – to find ways to collaborate.

-MS

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